Foreign Travel to U.S. forecast to drop 8% in 2009

According to a new report released Wednesday by the Commerce Dept., foreign  travel to the U.S. this year is projected to decline 8% as a result of the current global economic environment. Q1’09 international arrivals from all locations were off 10.3%, based on data from the department’s International Trade Administration Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. This decline however is met by a projected rebound of 3% growth by the end of 2010, followed by 5% annual increases through 2013.

“The numbers are a reminder that while the current global economic climate is difficult, more business sectors, like travel and tourism, are seeing glimmers of hope on the horizon,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement. [Reuters]

This year visitors from 24 of the top 25 arrival markets are estimated to decline. The largest decreases will be from Ireland (-13%), Spain (-12%), and Mexico (-11%). The United Kingdom, France and Italy are each expected to post 10% declines for the year.

These decreases follow a record year for the United States in 2008, having hosted 58 million international visitors.

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